Your mental image of yourself significantly affects numerous areas of your life – your relationships with others, personal style and self-esteem. If you struggle with your body image and insecurities about your appearance, or you can’t let go of the nagging idea that others are judging you, here are some ways to overcome these obstacles.

1. Identify and Challenge Negativity

The first step to improving your body image is to tune into your inner monologue. Most of us don’t stop to pay attention to the flow of automatic thoughts that run through our minds, but take time to listen to the self-talk you use throughout the day. Is it mostly insulting, self-deprecating or pessimistic?

Remember, the seeds of negativity you plant can take root and become poisonous. When you step back and objectively evaluate these thoughts, you can challenge them and make changes. Next time you catch yourself being gloomy or discouraged, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations like “I’m worthwhile.”

2. Appreciate Everything You Can Do

You are a 100% unique person, from your ear shape to the way you walk. Celebrate all the amazing things your body can do every day – running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc. Appreciate that your strong arms allow you to carry all the grocery bags in one trip, or that your skilled hands prepared a nutritious dinner for your family.

Make a list of things you love about your body that don’t relate to your appearance. Review it often, and add to it as this exercise helps you become more aware of things to like about yourself.

3. Be Realistic

Many women struggle to feel happy about their body image due to the unattainable beauty ideals they see on TV and in social media, with the underweight models who sell clothes and fitness products. Comparing yourself to others could be the quickest way to send your self-esteem plummeting. Realize that your favorite actors and influencers have access to resources the average woman doesn’t have – like personal stylists, trainers and makeup artists.

Write upbeat messages or reminders of your positive qualities on sticky notes and put them in places where you’ll see them throughout the day – like the bathroom mirror or next to your laptop.

4. Do Things That Make You Feel Good

Improving your body image is about more than your appearance. Being active every day can help you feel good by giving you more energy to complete daily tasks and allowing you to be present in each moment. Exercise, meditation, volunteering and spending time outdoors are all excellent self-esteem boosters.

5. Find Support

While getting older should bring wisdom and confidence, it can also bring a new set of challenges to your body image and self-esteem, especially when you face a barrage of marketing messages urging you to cover your perceived flaws. Some evidence suggests that women who have more resilience in the form of coping strategies and support from loved ones are more likely to have a positive body image.

The Benefits of Women’s-Only Treatment

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